Fortunately, I had locked the door. She was erupting on the other side of it, trying to force herself in to the home office that had become my sanctuary. For years, I had felt trapped. In my marriage. In my job. In my life.
I had known for over five months that my toxic marriage needed to change. I actually wanted it to end, but God had told me not to suggest that, but to take a slower path. I was reluctant, but obeyed.
I had been praying throughout the day of and in the weeks leading up to a difficult conversation about my requested changes. The end result was that my spouse decided to end the marriage anyway.
I was at peace. As she hurled insults and false accusations against me, I answered them calmly. The calmer I was, the angrier and louder she became. The angrier and louder she was, the calmer I became.
I was secure in who I was. I knew what I had done and had not done, and God knew as well. What anyone else thought was really beside the point.
The sheer rage on the other side of the door told me to keep it sealed. While I certainly would not have hit back, a physical confrontation would have done neither of us any good. I had been trapped in my marriage for years. What was a few hours more in my little room?
Less than eight months before, in that very same room, on the verge of suicide, I had accepted Jesus. I was a new person now, and I was filled with His peace. Even if my old life was in the hall yelling at me.
I stayed awake that night with the door sealed, even partially barricading it. Just in case. I spent the time praying, informing my loved ones, starting to pack for a now inevitable move, and shutting down my credit cards. I would be my spouse’s debt mule no longer.
Eventually, things settled down. As things do. That was the last real day of my marriage. The remaining eight months were primarily spent on legal transactions to undo the whole mess. As I have mentioned before, I ignored or missed several warning flags when getting married. It was the biggest mistake of my life, and I am grateful that Jesus has given me a second chance to experience the life He intends for me.
Yes, I once thought I was trapped. That my fate was sealed. Only through faith did I learn that Jesus was there all along, working behind the seal.
No, I was never truly trapped. For God was always with me.
“The king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament. In the evening the men went together to the king and said, ‘Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed.’ So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, ‘May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.’
“Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?’ Daniel answered, ‘Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.’ The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.” Daniel 6:14-16,19-23
One of the things I noticed when I first moved into my apartment last year was the weirdness of the floors. In both the kitchen and the dining area, the faux wood floors seemed to retain food crumbs and other spillages on a massive scale compared to places I used to live. Even after I put a little area rug in place, the problem persisted. Had I really become such a slob overnight?
I wondered about that and thought back on my old life. I sweep and vacuum far more now than I ever did at my old house. Why, then, did the crumbs seem so rapidly to accumulate? My former spouse cleaned the floors even less often than me, so it certainly wasn’t due to her previous efforts, either.
What was so different about my apartment? It took me over a year to solve the mystery. When the answer finally dawned on me, I must admit, it made me sad.
I don’t have a dog anymore.
For almost my entire life, I have lived with a dog. Food crumbs were never an issue because by the time they traveled from my plate to the floor, there was a scampering of paws and, SLURP, gone! One of my speedier dogs would often arrive before the crumbs even made it to the floor. She was lightning fast and her food-drop radar was laser-perfect. Of course, she tended to stay in the vicinity anytime there was even the possibility I might touch food.
So, no, I did not become a slob overnight. Apparently, I have been one all along, spoiled over the years by my dogs. Some dogs are more special than others, really touching your heart, and my two most recent dogs certainly fit that category. One passed away in 2013 and the other I gave up last year in my divorce. I don’t want to give energy to the games my former spouse played by rehashing them, but she did things to ensure I didn’t get to say goodbye to my little pal. Fortunately, JC saw that coming, and I said goodbye to my dog in advance just in case. Thank God. I also wrote her a goodbye letter at some point, though I don’t remember the exact timing of that. That might have been after I had already moved. Not to mail, of course, but just to express what I was feeling inside.
When I realized why the crumbs were there, the sense of loss when it came to my dog came flooding back. This dog had been a constant companion to me and helped me survive what became an increasingly negative environment in my old house. She and her predecessor were no doubt spiritual warriors at times. They certainly helped me in innumerable ways.
I wondered if I should adopt a dog. I would basically have to add her or him to the lease and pay additional rent. Not to mention all of the other expenses that come along with being a responsible pet guardian. The financial aspect is only a small part of the consideration, though. While it would be tight, I could probably finagle it.
Another aspect is I have come to like the freedom of knowing I can drop whatever I am doing, go anywhere I want, and stay as long as I want. Now, in this age of COVID-19, I have rarely taken advantage of it, but it is a nice option to have. Another thing is not having to venture outside 7 or 8 times a day for little walks. I don’t know, maybe that is just laziness, or maybe I am becoming set in my ways after living by myself for a relatively short while.
I think the largest consideration, though, is that I do not know where my life is going to take me after the next two to three years. I believe that adopting an animal is a true commitment. I would consider her or him a family member. Though I know who will be with me on the journey, I don’t yet fully know what our lives will look like, where God will lead us, and whether that new destination could accommodate a dog. I have not prayed deeply on this, but to the extent that I have, I don’t think this is the time for me to adopt a dog. In fact, that time may never come again.
In many ways, despite knowing the timing is wrong, I wish I could adopt a dog now. When my sister’s little dogs come running up and “attack” me, slobbering kisses all over my face, I realize how much I miss being around dogs. When I first moved in to the apartment complex, I would approach some of my neighbors’ dogs to pet them, but, of course, now, social distancing keeps us all apart.
I’m not really going anywhere with this post, other than to say, give all of your pets a hug. You never know where life will take you. Enjoy them, because I do feel they are true gifts from God. Remember to pray for them, too, because they may be using up their energy defending you in ways you can’t even imagine.
Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.
“For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.” Psalm 50:10-11
Not long after my last, brief post here, I started obsessing over “completing” my apartment. I moved here in July 2019. After recently extending my lease another 14 months, I decided to rev up my efforts to meet my goal of unpacking everything within a year of moving in.
Oh, I started really well last year. I unpacked everything that I initially brought here and then slowly started bringing additional boxes from a storage unit. Then… that slow process trickled down to nothing because I had about 6 tons of paperwork to go through (seemingly almost every piece of postal mail I had received since 1995).
One of my weaknesses is procrastination. So, it was easy to sit back and arrange my life around those unpacked boxes of paperwork. Not to mention the remaining boxes in the storage unit, which were out of sight, out of mind.
I even briefly put a blanket over the paperwork boxes so they would not be an eyesore when I wanted to use my living room for dancing.
Finally, though, late last month, I decided enough was enough. Now, the main weapon I have against my procrastination is my tendency towards obsession. So, I began to obsess over finishing my apartment. I spent just about every free hour working on it. Multiple trips to empty out the storage unit. Many memories to relive. Many more items to place.
I went from a 2,400 square foot house to a 660 square foot apartment. I want to be clear about something. That is not a complaint. I love my apartment. It feels like a home, far more than my house ever did. My apartment continues to be a part of my healing process as I become who God created me to be, and I am so grateful to Jesus for providing it to me.
The reduction in space has actually been helpful. Since another goal of mine was not to leave items in storage (because, really, what is the point of having something if it is locked away all the time?), it has forced me to prioritize. I have reduced my media collection (books, music, movies) by at least 75%. I do have to keep my “collecting” mentality in check, for there is a fine and rather blurry line between collecting and hoarding. I was married to a hoarder and even took on some of those tendencies myself in an attempt to fill spiritual holes. No. Never again. I have Jesus now.
Many items I realized I was keeping just to have. In case I might want to read or watch them again one day. In the modern age, though, if I really was intent to re-read a non-favorite book or re-watch a non-favorite movie, that would certainly be easy enough to accomplish without having to hang onto hundreds of them for years on end for the odd chance that I might decide to revisit one or two of them at some unknown point in the future.
It is freeing to let go. To donate items so that others may make use of them. After all, a book is to be read, not to decorate a shelf. I even had some brand new books that I planned to read “one day.” In some cases, over a decade later, I still had not started them. Better to let someone else have them. Let them be what they were designed to be.
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20
Meanwhile, as I was obsessing over my apartment, JC was cranking out one blog post after another. She has really become quite the writer, and I am sorry that I got behind in posting them. I can hear her now reacting, though: “Don’t be sorry. It is all God’s timing.” I have finally posted one of the backlog of posts over on the new Wounded Butterflies site: “23 Pieces of Advice from a Mom to Her Kids.” Be sure to check it out, as her advice is applicable to all of us. Besides, we are all somebody’s kid. Remember, since Wounded Butterflies lives on a separate server, you will need to sign up to receive emails about new posts there even if you are already signed up over here on Beloved Walks.
I am proud to say, I met my goal. By the time I hit the one year anniversary of moving in, I had finished unpacking. I still unfortunately have a few things in boxes, simply due to lack of storage, but they have all been examined and prioritized. All of my stuff is now gone from the storage unit.
After this stunning achievement, I decided to keep going. I had never decorated the walls of my apartment (I was afraid to hammer that first tack into the virgin walls), so artwork was one of the last things I brought over from the unit. I am happy to report that I have started putting up select pieces, old and new. After driving in that first tack and “ruining” the walls, it became a lot easier. While I was already happy with the place, it does feel even more like me now.
July 22 marked a year since the day of monumental blessings where I lost my job, signed away my house, and saw my former spouse for the last time. This July 22 was much less eventful. I did venture out of the apartment to go to the dentist, though, where everything checked out fine other than learning that I chipped a tooth at some point. My dentist is analytical, so she immediately went into root cause analysis to determine why I have been chipping my teeth (about the third time in the last decade). I eat way too much popcorn, it seems. Those un-popped kernels (“old maids”) will get you every time. So now, I have to sift out those old maids – since giving up popcorn is obviously not an option!
So, it has been a year of healing for me. Not only have I grown closer to Him, made my apartment into a place of calm and peace, found a new, less-stressful job, and reduced the burden of owning so much “stuff,” I have even made huge strides in bringing down the mountain of debt I accumulated during my marriage. No, my life isn’t perfect, but all is well.
I am so grateful to Jesus for being with me every step of the way and picking me up when I fall. I am also grateful to JC for being on this journey with me. Thank You, God, for such blessings.
The term “spiritual abuse” is not something I looked up on the Internet. I do not even know if such a phrase already exists. Here is how I am defining it: When someone you are under the authority of, per the Bible, fails to fulfill their Biblical responsibilities and instead creates an environment of disobedience to God.
I am the first person to say that nobody is perfect. This is not about a failure along the way or an error. This is about a spiritual authority that has a consistent pattern of being disobedient to the word of God, yet claiming they know Jesus. If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you know a little about my story.
God has recently laid it on my heart to go deeper with you and reveal more. My intent is to help just one person. Perhaps that one person is you. If so, I have been praying for you.
I have been married for 23 years; neither of us were saved when we got married. Eleven years ago, I was saved, and then two years after that, my husband was baptized. There are many responsibilities in the Bible that are given to governments, people in authority, and to husbands and wives. Ever since I was saved, God put on my heart the burden to give up my old life and be on the mission field full time. What an honor to serve Him full time.
My husband did not have the same call on his heart. We talked to the Senior Pastor, who told me, “God is not a God of confusion.” The problem with the pastor’s advice is that he never said to my husband, “Have you prayed about the burden on your wife’s heart? She is adamant this is what she has heard from the Lord.”
My husband does not pray, does not read the Bible, and never speaks the name “Jesus.” But, as a “good,” submissive wife, I thought that the pastor and my husband were right. God is not a God of confusion. For over a decade, then, I buried that burden deep within my heart. I went on mission trips each year. I prayed that God would reveal the same burden to my husband, but He did not or my husband never revealed He did. That burden is with me every day to this very day. But I replay what the pastor said, “God is not a God of confusion.”
Daily, I beg God for my husband to draw closer to Jesus. I beg for God to provide me with a husband who will read the Bible with me or pray with me or provide some example to our three kids of what a Christian husband and father might look like.
Morning after morning and night after night during my prayer time with God, I sob. I cry out to God. I have become an expert at stifling my sobs, as I do not want the kids to hear me. I have also become an expert at “cleaning up” my face should one of the kids enter the area where I am praying. I wipe the tears extremely quickly and slap a smile on my face. I even learned that a certain eye cream helps when I have cried too hard and my eyes get puffy.
I have become an expert at hiding my pain. I have become an expert at burying what I know God put on my heart: Full time missionary work. I tell myself that if God wanted me to be a full time missionary, He would burden my husband. So, maybe the timing is not just right yet. Keep stifling those sobs, keep using that eye cream, keep being submissive.
In March of this year, my best friend in the world passed away extremely unexpectedly. He was 46-years-old.
I was crushed.
I could not breathe.
The police were waiting for me to arrive. And there my best friend was, gone, laying on the floor, gone at age 46. I had to make decisions about cremation, funeral services, his finances, etc. I am his executor. I agreed to do this, yes, but not now. I thought when we were 90, maybe.
You left me. I felt alone and so hurt. Jesus quickly swooped in and reminded me that you were a child of God. You are now with Him and completely healed. Jesus reminded me that I will see you again. I still cling to that knowledge to help me get through the pain day-by-day. Praise Jesus for His promises.
The death of my best friend awoke in me a journey that I needed to go on. As I planned his funeral and cleaned out his home, I kept feeling him with me spiritually. I believe that when someone has crossed over, they are still with you, just in a different way. As the months passed, I felt my best friend sharing with me that he had no idea how much I cried and hid my tears and buried what I was created to be and denied what I heard from God.
I continued to cry out to God and continued to stifle my sobbing and hide my tears and deny who I was in Him.
A few months ago, God showed me examples in the Bible of people under ungodly authorities. In Exodus 1:15-16, Pharaoh tells the Hebrew midwives to kill the baby boys. Verse 17 notes, “But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders.” In verses 20 and 21, it says, “So God was good to the midwives […]. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.” It appears from these Scriptures that God rewarded the midwives for their disobedience to the king and obedience to God.
In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar requires all people to bow down and give worship to a statue. Three Jewish men refuse to obey the king. In verse 15, Nebuchadnezzar says, “I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue.” In verse 18, the men reply, “We want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” The king throws the men into a blazing furnace and God saves them. Then in verse 28, “They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” The three men were then promoted to even higher positions than before. It appears from these Scriptures that God rewarded the three men for their disobedience to the king and obedience to God.
I am currently in a Bible study by a popular American preacher. He says that when the wife fulfills Biblical responsibilities that belong to the husband, everything gets turned upside-down and the family unit is exposed to the enemy. I believe that, but what does a wife do? Stand by and allow her kids not to be led at all because it is the husband’s role?
Years ago, I made a conscious decision to lead my children and, yes, I assumed Biblical responsibilities that my Christian husband refused to do. I never stopped praying for my husband to be the spiritual leader that God created him to be and for me to be the wife that he needed to fulfill that role. No progress. More sobbing. More hiding the pain.
I have been fasting and praying for years about how to reconcile the command to be submissive to my husband versus the call that I know God has placed on my life as well as me leading the children versus my husband. I am choosing to divorce my husband. There are many reasons why I made this choice: verbal abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse, and, most of all, spiritual abuse.
I am not saying this path is for everyone. You must pray and listen to God. I have peace with the path I am now on. I have bathed it in prayer and asked for forgiveness from my husband and from God. I will continue to cry out daily for my husband, even when he is no longer my husband. The most important thing in this world is Jesus. Luke 12:31 says to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.”
All I need is Jesus. I want to give Him my life, my every breath. I have denied for a decade what He created me to do. I will be judged by other believers for the path I am taking. But this is not about them. This is about many years of daily conversations with God and me obeying the commands He has placed on the lives of every believer.
As I was praying about my marriage, my husband, and the path I am going down, I felt led to read Genesis. Laban deceives Jacob into marrying Leah, when Jacob just wanted to marry Rachel. In Genesis 31:1-16, conflict arises between Jacob and Laban. In verse 3, it says, “Then the Lord said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there and I will be with you.'”
There will be occasions in our lives that God will use conflict to get us on a new path and, more importantly, He will use conflict to sever relationships that are not guiding us to God. If there is a relationship in your life that is causing you to move away from God, pray about severing it. Our command is to obey God, above all other authorities we are under: “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
What I realized is that in choosing to submit to my husband, I was allowing myself and my kids to be led away from God. When I began to move toward God, conflicts arose. I realized that the marriage I am in is a mockery of God. There is nothing Biblical about this marriage other than two people in it who claim to know Jesus as Lord. I choose to no longer submit to a husband who refuses to pray, read the Bible, or speak the name above all names, Jesus.
Yes, I will be judged by people for filing for a divorce. But I have peace in knowing that I am not confused, and I will no longer be spiritually abused or abused in any other way.
I am going through a tremendous time of change in my life. While I met Jesus 11 years ago, I have not been fully surrendered to Him. What does that mean, “fully surrendered”?
The meaning I am applying here is that every corner of my life, every person in my life, every relationship in my life, AND my life itself belongs to Jesus. Saved people believe that, and we know it. How often do we live it, though?
I am sure there are times that we surrender situations to Jesus, ones that we know we cannot at all control – medical situations or other people’s behavior. But I am talking about even the corners of our lives that we believe we can control, such as where I want to work or where I want to go today.
For several months now, Snow and I have been working on fully surrendering our lives to Jesus and praying, “Bend me, break me to Your Will.” Within the past five months, we have both lost our jobs in the corporate world, we each lost someone incredibly dear to us to death (Praise God they both knew Jesus) and at least one marriage is ending.
For us, we daily give our worries to God, but we pick them right back up – sometimes within minutes. Daily questions we ask include:
“What is the plan, God?”
“What do You want me to do?”
“What is Your desired outcome so I can get there?”
I love clarity, and so there are times where I pray God would just tell me what to do: Where is the goal line? I will obey and move the ball down the field, but just tell me where You want me to wind up.
This is not how God works. I was studying Abram this week (before he became Abraham), and this man literally left all he knew for some place that God said He would show him at some point. WHAT??
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.'” Genesis 12:1
Notice that word “will.” Leave all that you know and are comfortable with for this completely unknown path that I am not ready yet to reveal to you.
As I studied this verse and Abram’s reaction, I thought to myself, could I do that? I say that I want to fully surrender all to Jesus, and I do believe that, but could I really do that? Leave all that I know and all that is comfortable for some unknown path? That is fully trusting God – wow.
Since Snow and I have been praying the “Bend me, break me” prayers for months, God has been removing toxic things from our lives. The work environments were extremely toxic. Certain relationships were and are extremely toxic. Both Snow and I were saved later in life, so we made stupid decisions before we were saved that are now being cleaned up, and God is at work in those corners of our lives, too.
All of that is an amazing blessing, but here is the issue: My heart.
Do I fully trust God with what He is doing in my life? Can I be like Abram and just obey without knowing the plan or the outcome?
The still, small voice reminds me of the following:
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
As I think about this verse, I definitely love God. I do not always act like it because I am a sinner, but I do love Him. And I do believe that He has a plan for my life because of two specific verses, though there are others.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:16
I believe in the Bible 100%, every word of it. So, based solely on these two example verses above, He has a plan, and the plan is for my ultimate good.
So why do I struggle with trusting Him? Has He ever let me down?
Yes, in my opinion, He did. Allow me to explain.
Two years ago, there was this sweet, amazing young girl that out of the blue got an aggressive cancer that began to ravage her body. The medical treatments were done, the surgeries occurred, etc. I believed in the power of prayer, and there were thousands of us praying for this sweet girl to be healed physically and remain in this world.
God chose to heal her a different way and ushered her into eternity. As a believer, I know that God knows best, and He loves her more than we can process, and I know He chose to call her Home, and it was the perfect response for her.
What about those of us who trusted God to heal her, though? There are several verses that talk about ask anything in My name and I will do it – so what happened here?
“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” Matthew 18:19
“Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” John 14:14
Jesus and Snow are going to help me heal and dive into these verses more. There will be a future post on this topic, so I will end that trail here for now.
For the purposes of today’s post, I must trust God. Things do not always make sense to me.
Can I be like Abram and just obey without knowing the end game? Oh, but I do know – Romans 8:28. Maybe this hurts, and it is messed up in my opinion, but He is at work, and I must trust Him. I will trust Him for a short time period, then start worrying again: How will this work? What about that?
It is a cycle of trust for me. I see it as a spiritual battle. The enemy does NOT want me to trust God and fully surrender to Him.
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” Romans 8:5-8
Note those words God uses, “always hostile to God,” “never” obeys, and “can never please God.”
“Always” and “never” are words that leave no room for lack of clarity. So, if I am listening to the enemy, dominated by the fear, the worry, I will never please God in that state of mind.
I am working on replacing worry with worship, for the enemy hates when we give glory to God (that is the whole reason Satan rebelled, to get glory).
I would like to say I have conquered this battle, but the cycle of trust continues: I trust Him, I worry, He reminds me of His love and promises, I trust Him, I worry.
The two things that I am focused on are:
Asking God to show me areas that I am not yet fully surrendered in and then listening to His response
Working hard to apply 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
I cannot control every thought that enters my mind, but I can control what I do with each thought once it is there. I compare it to Scripture and assess whether it is light and love. If it is, I engage God about it. If the thought is not edifying, pure, or anchored in the Truth, do I dwell on it and allow it to seep into my soul?
“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
I see in the above verse, “Trust me.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6
I see in these verses God saying, “I got it, regardless of what you think based on what you see around you. I got it.”
There is a battle going on, brothers and sisters. Fully surrendering and unconditionally trusting in God is the way to disarm the enemy.
In a span of 1 hour and 49 minutes on Monday, July 22, I lost my job, signed away my house, and saw my wife for probably the last time. It may sound like a bad country song, but I would more appropriately compare it to joyful praise music. I thank Jesus for these tremendous changes. I give my life to Him.
I had been at the same workplace for 11 years. To say that the environment had become toxic recently is an understatement. The last 17 months there in particular have been extremely difficult.
Two Fridays before I was fired, I went to my favorite park for a morning walk before work. Through the Holy Spirit, I felt God with me as I walked a path that I had never been down before. I thanked Him for my blessings as I cried happy tears. He revealed to me that morning that I would soon be fired.
Losing my job was a concern to me, as I was on the verge of signing a lease on an apartment as the sale of my house concluded.
“Should I hold off on the apartment? Find some other arrangement?”
No, He told me. I was to proceed with the apartment. I was to trust Him, for He would provide. There would be a severance package to get me by for awhile.
As I finished the “new” path, I noticed that I had actually passed it dozens of times in the past. It had been there all along. At work, I began to tie up loose ends and make sure I saw those I wanted to see.
I signed the lease that Sunday. The Wednesday before I was fired, I moved into my new place – my new life. With JC’s help, what was once an empty apartment has been transformed into a warm home, full of love. Full of Him. I am so grateful to her. I am blessed she is on this journey with me.
On the Monday I was fired, I went to the park at lunchtime (at this point, I still had a job). At the park, I texted JC. Here are portions of our exchange:
Snow: I just hate that place so much now. JC: You know you don’t belong there – it’s just where you are now.
Later, back at work.
Snow: It is so hard to breathe here. JC: I love you.
While it is not unusual for JC to send me two or three verses a day, this particular Monday she was sending me one after another. Here is a sampling:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38
“Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” Psalm 37:4
“Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
“I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King. I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick. But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:15-19
Not long after reading God was about to do something new, I was called down to HR and told that I was terminated effective immediately. During the proceeding, I was calm. I was at peace. I thanked and shook hands with those who told me the news. As God had promised, there was indeed a severance package. I walked out with head held high, chatting with the security chief about how our lives are in His hands.
Within nine minutes of the phone call to come down to HR, I was at my car. I left work for the last time and drove back to the park. It seemed fitting.
I soon had to leave, though, as I had to get to the closing on the sale of my house as part of separation and divorce proceedings with my spouse.
My main concern was finding the place and parking. There was only street parking available. While I have come a long way with overcoming anxiety when it comes to driving, parking is still a challenge to me. However, Jesus gave me a ridiculous amount of space to parallel park – not to mention stopping the traffic flow on an otherwise busy street so I could park without feeling like I was holding up everyone.
At the closing, my spouse was cold at best and on the verge of spitting on me at worst. I was peaceful, calm, and happy. Full of joy, actually. It took only 17 minutes to sign away the house I had lived in for 17 years – longer by far than any other. It, too, had become a toxic environment.
Spouse and I parted ways – likely not to see each other again, as attorneys will take care of the remaining details of undoing the mistake that was our marriage.
For King & Country has a powerful song called “Burn the Ships,” which we covered in a post last month. Ultimately, it is about letting go of the past in order to focus on the future.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I have at least three or four ships ablaze in the harbor. Now, two or three of them are ashes floating down into the depths of the sea.
Losing my job is a tremendous opportunity. First, He is providing me a rest. And then He will move me along to wherever He wants me next. Downsizing my life into an apartment is allowing me to focus on my spiritual journey, for I have so much to learn about Jesus, life, and myself. The ending of my marriage is freeing me to become who He created me to be.
Maybe I should be afraid, but I’m not.
I’m a child of God. I trust Him.
He’s got me.
Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.
“Jesus replied, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'” John 6:35
Before I was saved, I knew a lot of “church people.” They dressed up pretty and went to church “religiously” every Sunday. I can’t tell you how they lived each moment of every day, but I remember they oozed with condemnation. I always felt they were completely unapproachable and extremely judgmental about anyone who didn’t talk, act, dress, or look like them. This club was exclusive and private.
Before I was saved, I cussed like a sailor. I dressed less than modest, and I certainly didn’t act like a Christian. I both felt judged and was judged. Now that I have been saved for 11 years, I realize how wrong this “church family” was. They were doing the exact opposite of what Jesus wants us to do. We are to reach out to the undesirables, the untouchables, the “sinners.” Just read any part of the Gospels, and this is what you see our Master doing. He is the Savior saving the ones who need saving. We all need saving.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23
See those two words? “Everyone” and “all.” That means us, the church family, too.
This blog is all about raw truth, unfiltered. Anytime that Snow or I write anything, we bathe it in prayer first. We pour ourselves out as an offering, ask for the Holy Spirit to fill us up, and just write. We pray that what is written helps just one soul – just one.
Here comes the raw truth about church families. We are judgmental to the point where we hurt each other. We practically chase each other away (sometimes do). Can you imagine how the lost or the visitors in our churches feel?
Let me give you an example I am living currently. I have been a member for over ten years at the same church. A few thousand people attend each week. The church is becoming more diverse, which I love and pray for. Only very recently have I reached out to a few dear friends about the hurts in my marriage. I have endured many things in the past 11 years. I have been married almost 25 years, and I have never talked to anyone about any of it.
I thought I was being submissive just like the Bible says. There are many, many verses on wives being submissive to their husbands.
“These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.” Titus 2:4-5
Ephesians 5:24 says, “As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.” Wow – everything? What if he is leading you and your children into disobedience? Clearly, the verse is using the model of Christ leading the church, and Christ is sinless, so the church should absolutely follow and submit fully to Christ.
Also, I am aware that no husband is sinless as Christ, so they are all going to make mistakes. But living a daily life of disobedience because that is what my “believer” husband is leading me and our kids to do? No, thank you! I will not disobey Jesus. He is my leader first.
Here is where the church family may want to take James 1:19 to heart, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
I confided in my best friend, who is church family. I had held the hurt in so long, I just needed to talk to someone I trusted. Sharing with someone that you are hurting and struggling in your marriage is not easy. Unfortunately, the judgment started immediately. I was swiftly quoted Malachi 2:16, “‘For I hate divorce!’ says the Lord.”
Here is where I am pleading with the global church family – please do not judge another’s hurts and wield Scripture without listening, without trying to understand the heart and motive of the other person. Or just pray with them first before offering your opinion. Listen for God’s guidance before quoting Scripture after two minutes of conversation and deciding the case to be closed.
Please do not misunderstand me, brothers and sisters, I use the Word for everything in my life.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16
“Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” 1 John 4:1
I believe every single word of Scripture is God-breathed. I love the Word of God. All I am suggesting is that when fellow church family members come to you – please listen. Please pray with them. They may be in domestic violence situations or other abusive situations, and you quote Malachi 2:16 to them?
I know my friend was trying to be helpful. I know her response was intended to be loving and Word-based. I love her dearly for using the Word in her life daily. I refrained from going into any details that would potentially dishonor my husband. That is not what I feel led to do. Instead, I smiled at my friend and shared that I am aware of Malachi 2:16. I have studied it and prayed about it. I did not use the word “divorce,” and I may never, but instead I was seeking Godly counsel.
I shared that I know Jesus came to set us free, and He came so that we may have life and life abundant (John 10:10). I also shared that I have been praying about this for 11 years. I also feel Jesus saying, “I did not free you to remain in chains.” I do not believe that God intends for His children to remain in abusive relationships. Yes, I am aware of the various verses that talk about divorce, yet I hold the belief I hold.
Does that make me a church family member to be judged or shamed? Maybe. But, maybe also the church family made assumptions. Maybe they judged without the facts or without prayer. Maybe. Just maybe. We should first hold the person that reached out, pray with them. Listen. Fast with them. Offer to pray for them daily and right there on the spot.
The final suggestion to consider, fellow believers, is the possibility that if a spouse is struggling in marriage, there is something deeper going on. There is more to the story than you may realize. There is more to the story than you are being told. If you are in a happy marriage, do not project your life onto this person in need. On the other hand, if you are miserable in your marriage, if you have had Malachi 2:16 wielded against you in the past, do not continue this cycle. Do not fall prey to “misery loves company.” Break the cycle.
None of us are perfect. If we were, Jesus would not have had to die for us on the cross. We are, each of us, flawed. We are humans. It is not for us to judge the personal decisions of church family members, especially those reaching out to you for help. That is between Jesus and them.
Who are we to even think we have the ability to judge? Compared to an all-knowing, all-loving, compassionate God? We can’t possibly fill His shoes.
Pray with your church family. Listen to them. Be there for them. Hold them. But until your own life is completely free of sin, do not judge them. Do not shame them. Just love them.